Town of Paradise

Worker Cleaning Up Camp Fire Made 'Reprehensible' Facebook Posts

Police Are Allegedly Considering Criminal Charges

Holly Quan
December 17, 2018 - 8:28 pm

Police in the burned-out town of Paradise may file criminal charges against a worker who made jokes in poor taste on social media about the wildfire, the town said.

The worker has also been fired from the East Bay crane company that had sent him to clean up debris from the Camp Fire after hearing complaints about the insensitivity of his Facebook posts. 

Rob Freestone jumped on a scorched trampoline, lounged in an RV gutted by flames and posed a dead cat with a beer bottle near its mouth in some of the objectionable photos that recently came to light. 

"Dude... I was just chilling with my homies, having a couple of cold ones, and BAM... damn fire breaks out," the caption read above the dead cat. 

Paradise officials were outraged by the content. 

"This is unacceptable and reprehensible behavior," a message on the Town of Paradise's Facebook account said. "Town leadership has contacted this subject's employer and [Rob Freestone> will no longer be working in our Town."

The message also said that police are investigating Freestone's conduct. 

Bigge Crane and Engineering, a 100-year-old family-run company from San Leandro, dismissed  Freestone and two other employees over the incident. 

“It really is a family-owned business, and that’s the family name,” the company's attorney Randy Smith said. “That’s their grandfather’s name on the side of the truck, so the owners take it very seriously when an employee does something to hurt the reputation of the company. They take it very seriously and the insensitivity shown by the posts were shocking.”

The company's crews had been hired to replace power poles and fell damaged trees. 

Freestone is from Indianapolis and had been hired six weeks ago, said Smith. 

“It went to the highest levels of ownership immediately and that’s why we had to take swift action,” Smith said. “It’s just unbelievable."

Paradise city councilman Mike Zuccolillo admits he's done stupid things as a kid, but the posts go beyond insulting.

“You have a community where people haven’t been allowed to go home yet, and these guys are running around town, mocking people’s property and dead animals,” he said. “I don’t know who does that.”

Written by Brian Krans.